Monday, September 11, 2023

FIBA World Cup 2023

I have grown fond of watching the FIFA World Cup, but now that I have a little better access to the FIBA World Cup I prefer its excitement.  The most recent FIFA world cup was the 22nd edition and had 32 teams and offered 64 games.  The current FIBA World Cup is the 19th version and also has 32 teams, but offers 85 games.  Part of the difference is that soccer is supposedly more strenuous and the players need more time off.  Basketball games are only 40 minutes long and substitutions are frequent. The 24 second clock assures there is stress, but few lulls in action.  After the first group games the teams are split into new groups--the top two of each group still in the run form new groups--the bottom two form another group, but can no longer advance.  In effect this means each team gets at least 5 games. 

The NBA has many foreign players.  With some players and owners the FIBA World Cup is an intrusion on free time and also risky.  Others feel representing their nation is a goal. The rules are not the same and given an advantage to those who understand them better. They know one another--a positive photo shows Luka Domcic and Shai Gilgeus-Alexander hugging one another.  At the end was seen Dennis Schroder hugging Bogdanovich.

We all love to watch outstanding scoring for which there was plenty but a key to winning is defense.  The top teams all displayed strong defense.

The tournament was held in three different countries.  Jakarta, Indonesia; Manila, Philippines and Tokyo, Japan.  Indonesia apparently did not get the automatic host team, although the most populous of the three.  I did notice in Jakarta women wearing at scorer table which demonstrates progress to equality.

In the group sections tv. coverage was only accessible for the Canadian team.  As the games were at inconvenient times I mostly relied on PVR versions and got caught two times with games that exceeded the time limits of my programming efforts.  A lesson learned.

The Canadians were considered real contenders, but not quite as much as they turned out to be.

The French game was a big surprise.  They were ranked higher and initially seemed to deserve it.  However the Canadian team pulled themselves together and easily won during the second half.  Not quite the first time I noticed Shai Gelgeus-Alexander from Hamilton, but he put ona  great display and proved to be a two way player.

Lebanon was overwhelmed. They were not too bad on offense, but terrible at defense.

The third game repeated a pattern of the first game.  Latvia was an excellent team who played very well together and jumped off to a lead in the first half.  Again the Canadians seemed to have better understood their opponents and came from behind.

In the crossover group the Canadians lost to Brazil, putting them in their first must win situation.   

Spain was another higher ranked team with a lot of good players and worked together very well.  This was for me the most exciting game of the tournament.  The Canadian coach, Jordi Fernandez had coached under the Spanish coach.

The game against Slovenia had one of top players in the world, Luka Domcic.  Another tense game

Canada lost to Serbia.  Fouls did them in.  There is a flukey element in that some actions result in a foul, but very similar actions do not necessarily.  The timing is also critical in that risks need to be minimized after early fouls.  I remember in high school that too often a player who has fouled will make a quick second foul and it is wise to take a player out of the action.  Having said that it must be acknowledged that fouls happen because one team gets an edge and can only be stopped by a foul. 

They beat U.S. for bronze in overtime.  U.S. scored 4 points with 4 seconds to force the overtime. They deliberately missed second foul shot so they could shoot for a 3.

The Gold medal game was 83-77 in favor of Germany which was the only undefeated team.  I had seen Germany almost lose to Latvia and later defeat the U.S.  Dennis Schroder was the key player.  Relatively short he was fast and very deceptive.  He looked terrible against Latvia and I despaired realizing he had been traded to the Toronto Raptors.  But he shone in two subsequent games and was awarded MVP for the tournament.  He demonstrated his leadership as he pulled down two huge team mates who took in his advice.  Schroder and Bogdan Bogdanovic were seen hugging after the German victory over Serbia. 

 The German coach, Gord Herbert was born in Canada and had participated on the Canadian basketball team for the 1984 Olympics and the 1986 FIBA World Cup.  He played professionally in Finland before getting into coaching.  He coached in Germany, France, Finland and Greece.  Also was an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors.

The Serbian coach, Svetislav Pesic has an interesting history including ties to Germany.  He played for Yugoslavia.  He coached the Yugoslavian Junior team (that included Vlad Divac and Toni Kukoc) to World Junior Championship in 1987.  He coached a German national team to victory at the Eurobasket   in 1993.  In 2002 he took the Yugoslavian team to the gold medal for the FIBA World Cup.  He has coached club teams in Spain and Germany.  He has dual citizenship with Germany with a son who played on the German national team and a daughter who married a German player. 

For many the Olympics is a bigger deal, perhaps as part of the biggest sports event of any year.  Only 12 teams are included and there is a vigorous qualifying procedure.  There will be a change in lineups.  Nikola Jovic probably could have made a difference for the Serbians.  So might Jamal Murra, another key player for the Denver Nuggets for Canada.  For Canada I would like to see more bigger players such as Chris Boucher and Zac Edey will have matured to be more of a factor.  Each nation had players who did not participate in the World Cup.

My personal connection to basketball:

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